A COUNCILLOR'S husband accused of forcing his way into a neighbour’s house and grabbing her by the throat has been cleared of assault.

Anthony Wilson Hewitson, husband of Great Aycliffe Town Councillor Irene Hewitson, denied assaulting his neighbour in her home at Rowan Place, Newton Aycliffe, on July 30.

The accusations were made against a backdrop of antagonism between residents on the street, which was sparked by the neighbour’s granddaughter being bitten on the cheek by another resident’s dog in June.

Loading article content

Magistrates in Darlington today (Thursday, December 13) heard allegations of rat poison being left out for dogs, windows being broken, assaults and witness intimidation.

The tearful neighbour was first to the stand. She said she had been disturbed by a loud banging on her door while watching television at 3pm.

She described trying to lock the UPCV door only for it to be forced open by Mr Hewitson and his 19-year-old daughter, who live across the road.

“Mr Hewitson dived straight towards me grabbed me by the throat and pushed me on to the stairs, banging my head” she said. “I was terrified. His right hand was raised as if he was going to hit me. He was shouting that he was going to kill me.”

She said Mr Hewitson and his daughter had damaged the door and a CCTV camera.

Her account was largely backed up by a neighbour who lives directly opposite. However, the witness said the woman had opened the door herself.

Mr Hewitson, 51, denied entering the house and assaulting the woman. He conceded he may have caused damage to a door panel while banging on it but said the lack of damage to the lock mechanism proved it had not been forced.

He claimed instead the pair her exchanged words in her front garden – an account verified by his daughter and another neighbour.

He said he and his wife had nothing to do with the neighbourhood dispute but admitted he had been “very annoyed” that day, as his window had been smashed and he believed the neighbour’s family were responsible.

“I am not in the habit of hitting women,” he added.

A statement read out by an attending police officer noted the neighbour had no red marks on her throat.

Mr Hewitson was found guilty of criminal damage but magistrates dismissed the assault charge, stating they found the accounts of the defence witnesses’ more credible.

He was received a six-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £85 court costs and £50 compensation.